sidewalks —

fell over
too often,
now perpetually stumble
even sober.

looking around
not at where they’re



17TH-CENTURY REALISM MEETS 20TH-CENTURY TELEVISION in “Joseph’s Bloody Coat Brought to Jacob” (1630) by Diego Velázquez, now appearing in a really good exhibit at The National Gallery in London. The painting depicts Joseph’s jealous brothers cleverly (and guiltily) offering their father false evidence of his favored son’s death. Only Jacob’s canine companion, straight out of a scene from Lassie, seems to know what the real deal is. One can almost hear the spaniel yapping, “Ruff! Something smells suspicious! Ruff! Ruff!” Apparently, even the masters will indulge in melodramatic plot devices from time to time.

LIFE’S ROUGH WHEN YOU’RE DEAD, especially if you’ve made a few enemies here and there – like, family. Hopefully, when I’m happy and buried, I won’t leave a legacy of bitter, wounded people who post comments like these to my online memorial:

Some of the snubs are blunt. “Everyone gets their due,” a former client writes of an embezzling accountant. Or, “I sincerely hope the Lord has more mercy on him than he had on me during my years reporting to him at the Welfare Department.”

Others are subtler: “She never took the time to meet me, but I understand she was a wonderful grandmother to her other grandchildren.”

“Reading the obit, he sounds like he was a great father,” says another, which is signed, “His son Peter.”

Hayes Ferguson, the company’s chief operating officer, said, “Most often it’s cases of Sue posting that he was the love of my life and then we check and the wife’s name is Mary.”

No rest for the wicked, I suppose.

MY GIANT ONLINE MEDIA EMPIRE is kinda freaking me out. I’ve just added an iLike profile to go along with my Friendster page, my MySpace page, my Amazon.com wish list, my Netflix Friends profile, my homepage, my other homepage, my blog, my old Monster.com resume, my old HotJobs resume, my old Creative Hotlist resume, and whatever else Google can dig up. It’s all out there for the world to see. And like the guy at The Sneeze, I don’t even know why I signed up for half of these things in the first place. Maybe I should get myself a good alias. Because at the same time that I’m glomming onto every web template within clicking distance, I’m also terribly concerned about my privacy. Can you overexpose yourself and still have no one know who you are? Has the Internet turned us all into megalomaniacal, self-absorbed, social networking, paranoid cyber-stalkers? Or is it just me?

I QUIT SMOKING FOR THIS? Skimming the online edition of the Los Angeles Times, I clicked on the headline, “State’s Air Is Among the Nation’s Worst”. According to an EPA report, “Californians are breathing some of the most toxic air in the nation, with residents of Los Angeles and Orange counties exposed to a cancer risk about twice the national average.” My first thought was, “Whew, I glad I got the heck out of there.” Which was soon followed by a haughty, derisive, “Hah, you silly, smoothie-slurping, tracksuit-wearing, image-worshipping, smoking-in-bars-banning exercise freaks! Your precious SUVs spell your doom.” Of course, the third paragraph of the article reads, “New York tops the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list” for highest chance of contracting cancer from breathing the air. Curses, foiled again.

THERE’S SOMETHING FISHY GOING ON AT AMAZON.COM and it has to do with the new Iron Maiden concert DVD. Even though I agree with the reviewers who are critical of Steve Harris’ atrocious, hyperactive editing, I can’t help but be suspicious of the six most recent one-star reviews (dated March 7–8). Or is it perfectly normal for users named Pitchulo Dun Dun, Poverty “Tungan”, Kael, Gergellor, Patherson and Carmarthen — who apparently live in places called Filha de Uma Puta, Puta Que O Pariu, Jugland, Supimpalândia and Zunder — to post nearly the exact same review in two days? Even more bizarre, five of the six use the word “edition” when they mean to say “editing”. I can’t even begin to form a theory, unless some nutso metalhead actually has six different Amazon.com identities and felt compelled to post a negative review under each. But that’s just crazy.

IT’S SUMMER, AND THE SKY SMELLS LIKE TRASH. One of the few downsides of living in New York City is the ubiquity of trash in everyday life. Walking out of work on this warm, moist summer night, the sky smelled like trash. The gentle breeze reeked of refuse. The hot gust from the subway entrance, like urine. The sticky subway car, like an armpit. In February, it’s a winter wonderland of garbage bags and beer bottle snow cones. In October, newspapers and used napkins mingle with the drifting brown and yellow leaves. Ah, the changing of the seasons! Still, it’s better than the empty, unrelenting prettiness of partly cloudy, bone chilling San Francisco — an experience that a coworker accurately described as, “Like the worst day of Spring every day of the year.” I’ll take the stink and grime over that, that’s for sure.

FROM NOW ON, I shall evaluate the loyalty of my friends based on whether they would back me up in a knife fight. This includes the girls. This is how it works. If this friend and I were, say, stuck on a prison planet and one of the other inmates started picking on me to the point where shivs were drawn and ready, would this so-called friend stand with me and make sure I didn’t get jumped from behind? (Friend.) Or would he/she skulk in the shadows and pretend not to know me? (Not friend.) It’s just something that occurred to me. And, I think, it’s the only way to be sure.

INAUGARATION DAY and here we go again. The one bright spot – JibJab and their Monty Python-esque little balls of Flash fun. Sure, I laugh because it’s wacky and goofy, but I also think it might be one of the most impressive uses of Flash animation yet. Not because of its technical sophistication, but because it’s able to create its own aesthetic – instead of just passing as a poor man’s cell animation or a slightly more ambitious Sunday funny. (Likewise, this Radiohead video is also very good.)